The Scorpion Weed of Lake Havasu
Taylor Cantrell BIO 100
The Scorpion Weed, Phacelia crenulata, is a purple flower that grows nearly every spring in western Arizona 1. This flower is able to survive in extreme temperatures, and can have a similar affect with poison oak and poison ivy 2 . Many people believe that the Scorpion Weed got its name because of the “sting” that it has on some people, but actually it is largely due to the fact that it is a top heavy flower, which causes it to curl over like a scorpion’s tail does. The flowers are smaller than an inch and are purple or blue in color and the leaves are green and hairy 3.
The Scorpion Weed is native to the Americas and is commonly found in desert regions of California, Arizona, and Nevada. It is commonly found in canyons, washes, and sandy or gravelly locations, which includes pretty much all of Lake Havasu City including yards and walking trails. In a very dry winter, it is likely that few if any Scorpion Weeds pop up in the spring.
Many visitors do not know that this weed is poisonous and to them it just another pretty wild flower1. “The foliage can cause contact dermatitis and severe blistering in sensitive persons” (2). Phacelia can also cause poison oak-like rashes. Many people who come into contact with this plant do not realize that is poisonous since a rash does not develop immediately, leading it to be easily spread throughout the body4. Some people can come into contact with the Scorpion weed and have no reaction, but others may have a severe allergic reaction. Often times a person will not be the one to come into contact with the Scorpion Weed but their pet will. Pets can carry the fibers which contains geranylhydroquinone, the allergen that causes the rash5, and may transfer to a human while being pet or after laying on the furniture or bed.
The rash from the scorpion weed can last from a few days to over a week, and does not have a specific medicine, but Calamine lotion and Benadryl are common treatments for this rash. Aloe Vera lotion can lessen the pain and itchiness of this rash as well as help the healing process. Isolating the rash and frequently washing hands is a great way to prevent spreading the rash over more parts of the body. Since the allergen is easily transferred from shoes or animals, it is also important wash your shows and bathe your dog after a hike2.